Sunday, 7 February 2010

Ocean Waves


Umi ga Kikoeru; Animated drama, Japan, 1993; D: Tomomi Mochizuki, S: Nobuo Tobita, Yoko Sakamoto, Toshihiko Seki

Kochi. Taku and Yutaka are good friends. One day, a girl gets transferred to their high school, Rikako, who is rather arrogant because she is suffering from the divorce of her parents. A school trip is suddenly canceled, so Taku and Yutaka protest. Luckily, the next year, the school organizes a trip to Hawaii. There, Rikako asks Taku to borrow her some money. A year later, during summer, Rikako tricks her mother using a concert as a pretext and sets out to fly with her friend Yumi to Tokyo to meet her father. Yumi refuses to go, but Taku accompanies her to the capital. There, Rikako is disappointed by her neglectful father and spends the days with Taku in a hotel. They don't speak a word back in school. Yutako gets into an argument with Taku and they don't speak a word until the end of the high school. Years later, during a high school reunion, they all meet again. Taku meets Rikako again at a station and falls in love with her.

A gentle ode to high school life, Studio Ghibli anime TV drama "Ocean Waves" is a wonderfully sincere accomplishment that manages to turn nostalgic and emotional just the right way, neither too cold nor too sentimental. A great deal of praise goes to the unknown, but extremely talented low-key director Tomomi Mochizuki who always tends to show motherly care for his characters, build patient drama development and insert humanity in his stories. "Ocean" is a compact and small film - at first it seemed excellent to me as such, but upon second viewing it somehow didn't repeat the same enthusiasm and stopped at being "just" a good film. The events are interesting and flow smoothly, but the small problem is that the main sensation is the trip (the sweet situation where hero Taku has to unwillingly escort girl Rikako on her secret "sneak-peak" flight to Tokyo, where she wants to see her father again) which has spark (the scene where Taku leaves Rikako with her dad and goes to stay alone in the hotel, but then she shows up and cries in his arms because of the cold attitude of her parent, is fantastic), but ends already some 40 minutes into the film. The rest of the story never repeats the same intensity and continues to be rather mild until the end. The fact that the running time of the film is only 70 minutes also confirms that the screenplay was sparse and should have been developed more. However, it's another pleasant achievement from the Studio that deserves to be seen for its sensitivity that's a rarity.

Grade:++

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